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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Louisville man was one of just eight Marines aboard the USS Missouri when Japan surrendered to the United States at the end of World War II. The evidence of his extraordinary military career is just now being unlocked 68 years later.
"These are the mementos that tell of what a man's most inner most thoughts are. Duty, honor, country courage and commitment," said Major Gen. Robert Silverthorn Jr.
A Marine doesn't boast of his achievements.
"We looked down the list and found out that medal after medal after medal belonged to the same individual," said Kentucky Treasurer Todd Hollenbach.
Lt. Col. Roy Owsley's three children didn't know all their father had accomplished until they got a phone call a few weeks ago from the Kentucky Treasurer. "We've got a safe deposit box with a bunch of stuff that belonged to your Dad, can you come down, I'd like to show it to you," said Bill Owsley.
Inside was their father's life laid out, a collection of military medals received during WWII, buttons from his uniform, and evidence that he witnessed a turning point in American history.
Serving as an aide to a prominent General he was there on Sept. 2nd 1945 when the Japanese surrendered to the U.S.
"We thought it was gone and I'd written it off," said Roy Owsley Jr.
The deposit box was sitting alongside other unclaimed valuables in the Kentucky Treasury Department's possession. The Treasure Finders Program aims to reconnect families with their valuables.
"Dr. Owsley kept these honors largely to himself and I suspect it was out of respect to his fellow Marines who did not come home from WWII," said Silverthorn.
"They had it all laid out in this table in just grand display and I was just shocked," said Bill Owsley.
Also found were Owsley's keys to the city of Louisville awarded to him for his years of civilian service by three different mayors. Although the WWII vet died in 1987, this family feels more connected today than ever.
"It really is a testament of what he gave back to people. It's like we've gotten a little bit of our father back. It's remarkable," said Owsley Jr.